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Grumpy Old Fan | Stick a fork in DC’s March solicitations

Liquid metal

A punch so hard it knocks the green off

A while back I wrote that DC Comics could stand to cancel some books, but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind. DC’s March solicitations are among the most significant of the New 52. The August 2011 solicits, which were the last of their particular era, were relatively routine; back then, every superhero title was either being canceled or relaunched. By contrast, March 2015 looks like the start of another line-wide makeover. It will see the end of several series, including some charter members of the New 52.

The solicits actually extend to the week of April 1, which will feature a slew of annuals, the final issues of the three weekly series, and Convergence #0. (All that will cost you $54.89 retail.) With Convergence then taking over April and May, readers will have to wait until June’s solicits (coming in February, of course) for the first full picture of the New However-Many. Although the nature of Convergence still suggests that some old, familiar elements will be reintroduced into the New 52 — because why say “every story matters” if you’re not going to use at least some of them going forward? — these solicits are arguably the strongest indication to date that the New 52 isn’t going away.

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Dexter faces Batman in the fan film you probably didn’t expect

dexter-v-batman

We come to expect some inter-franchise face-offs in fan films, whether it’s Batman vs. the Terminator or Batman vs. Wolverine. However, it’s unlikely anyone saw this coming: Dexter Morgan vs. the Dark Knight.

Directed by Mike Donis, “Batman vs. Dexter: Crossing Over” brings the vigilante serial killer to Gotham City to abduct Oswald Cobblepot in an effort to draw out the Caped Crusader, simply to find out whether he actually exists. It’s a solid enough premise that actually comes off pretty well, despite, as Topless Robot notes, the decidedly low production values (Batman’s costume is particularly rough, and we’re left to wonder why one of The Penguin’s henchmen is wearing a Court of Owls mask).

The roughly seven-minute short is labeled “Episode 1″ and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, which certainly suggests we’ll be seeing more of “Crossing Over.”

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Edumacate us: How ‘The Simpsons’ changed the language

simpsons

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Simpsons — the first episode aired on Dec. 17, 1989 — Oxford Dictionaries turned to author and English professor Michael Adams to examine how Homer & Co. have changed the language, probably more than most of us realized.

After touching upon the contributions like craptacular and embiggening, Adams zeroes in on those ” two small but powerful words, words that aptly capture what it’s meant to be human during the Simpsons decades.” He means, of course, d’oh and meh.

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Judges announced for 2015 Eisner Awards

eisnerawards_logoComic-Con International has announced the judging panel for the 2015 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.

The six-person committee will meet in early April in San Diego to select the nominees to be placed on the Eisner ballot, which will then be voted on by comics industry professionals. The judges are:

  • Carr D’Angelo, founding owner of Earth-2 Comics in Sherman Oaks and Northridge, California, and vice president of the direct-market trade organization ComicsPRO
  • Richard Graham, media librarian and associate professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and managing editor of the academic e-journal SANE (Sequential Art Narratives in Education)
  • Sean Howe, author of the Eisner-winning Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
  • Susan Kirtley, associate professor of English and director of rhetoric and composition at Portland (Oregon) State University, where she’s developing a comics studies program
  • Ron McFee, a 35-year volunteer for Comic-Con International and a longtime member of the Convention Committee
  • Maggie Thompson, longtime co-editor of Comics Buyer’s Guide

Guidelines for submitting materials will be released in early January; deadline for entries is March 17. The winners will be announced July 10 during an awards ceremony held in conjunction with Comic-Con International in San Diego.

A Pac-Man themed restaurant is opening in Chicago

pac-man

Since its arrival in arcades three decades ago, Pac-Man has inspired more than 30 video-game spinoffs, cereal, a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon and even a hit song (1982’s “Pac-Man Fever”). And come January, you can add a restaurant to the list.

The Chicago Tribune reports Namco Entertainment is opening a 40,000-square-foot restaurant, cleverly named Level 257 after the game’s final kill screen, in a former Sears warehouse at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, northeast of Chicago.

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Campfire girls: ‘Lumberjanes’ #9 is a great jumping-on point

Lumberjanes 9

Chynna Clugston Flores

If you read about comic books on the Internet, and I have reason to believe you do, then chances are you’ve seen a lot this year about Lumberjanes.

And there’s good reason for that. First, the monthly series from BOOM! Studios is the sort of book many talkers-about-comic have been saying we need more of forever: It’s full of strong female protagonists, and it’s the work of strong female creators. (It’s a comic book about a group of awesome ladies, by awesome ladies!)

Second, and more importantly, it’s really, really good. It’s the story of five teenage best friends who occupy the Roanoke cabin of their Girl Scouts-like summer camping organization — April, Jo, Mal, Molly and Ripley — and their discovery of, and battles, against all kinds of weirdness in the woods around them. In the first, eight-issue arc they became involved in a contest between Greek gods, fighting three-eyed woodland creatures, yetis, dinosaurs and giant lightning bugs in the process. All that while earning merit badges.

Why do I bring this up? Well because if you’ve been reading about Lumberjanes and haven’t yet sampled it, this week’s issue is a pretty great jumping-on point.
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Fighting sexual violence in India with ‘Priya’s Shakti’

Priya coverPriya’s Shakti is a comic that aims to change the world, or at least, one part of it.

The creation of writer Ram Devenini and artist Dan Goldman, Priya’s Shakti uses elements of Indian religion and mythology to take on the difficult topic of rape and send a strong message that it’s a crime and the victim is not to be blamed for it. The comic tells the story of a rape survivor who’s cast out by her family, a situation that angers the gods; the resolution comes with a call to action.

The comic is available for free on comiXology and debuts in print this week at the Mumbai Film and Comics Convention. However, it’s not limited by the usual distribution structures: As Devenini explains to ROBOT 6, the creators have partnered with the Indian charitable trust Apne Aap Women Worldwide to get the title out to girls in classrooms and communities far from comics shops. They also painted street murals in Mumbai that include an augmented reality feature; when viewed with a smart phone, parts of the murals are animated.

I spoke with Devenini and Goldman about making the comic, the special features, and how they plan to spread the word.

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How to make your own Baby Groot out of cardboard

groot-dyi

If you’re one of those who takes a do-it-yourself approach to holiday gifts, this may be for you: a Baby Groot made using a laser printer and materials purchased from a Dollar Store. He has articulated arms, to boot!

I’m not at all crafty — as the lopsided wind chime and shapeless backpack from my shop and home ec. classes will attest — but even I could could make this, with little frustration or injury. I think. Maybe I’ll just buy a Dancing Baby Groot from KIDdesigns, or wait for the movie-accurate figure from Hot Toys … Anyway, watch the step-by-step video below.

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Comics A.M. | The mystique of the Marvel writers’ retreat

Marvel

Marvel

Publishing | Alex Abad-Santos examines how Marvel has created a mystique around its writers’ retreats, using the necessary secrecy to transform the planning meetings “into something fans are genuinely interested in.” The piece goes beyond that, however, touching upon recent accusations of sexism, and the inclusion of newly Marvel-exclusive writer G. Willow Wilson in this month’s retreat. [Vox]

Comics | Matt Cavna interviews Matt Bors, editor of The Nib, the comics section of the website The Medium, which has become the go-to site for journalism and commentary in comics form. [Comic Riffs]

Best of the year | The Publishers Weekly critics vote for the best graphic novels of the year; Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer tops the list, and there are plenty of interesting suggestions as books that got even one or two votes are included. [Publishers Weekly]

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Norm Breyfogle hospitalized after stroke

Norm Breyfogle at his drawing table.

Norm Breyfogle at his drawing table.

Artist Norm Breyfogle — a comics veteran known best for his years on various Batman titles for DC Comics — has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke, according to a post on his Facebook page written Wednesday afternoon by Barbara De La Rue.

This is Barb I’m norm’s ex from California. Norm won’t be answering any txt’s from you friends out there. Norm just had a stroke and is in the hospital. Please keep him in your thoughts and your prayers. At this point norm is expecting a full recovery but time will tell.

A regular fixture on the Batman books from 1987 to 1993, Breyfogle has once again become a regular fixture at DC Comics in recent years, drawing Batman Beyond and Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger. He also illustrated much of the initial run of the Life With Archie series for Archie Comics starting in 2010, widely credited as a major turning point in that publisher’s ongoing evolution.

All of us at Comic Book Resources wish Breyfogle a speedy recovery.

Droid from ‘Star Wars’ trailer already has a fan-made video

bb-8-fan-video

The 88-second teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens left fans with a lot of questions: “Is John Boyega’s character a Stormtrooper?” “Who’s the shadowy figure with the crazy/impractical lightsaber?” “What’s up with that crazy/impractical lightsaber?” and “D’aw, who’s the cutest droid ever?”

The latter, it turns out, is BB-8 (which Mark Hamill revealed isn’t created with CGI), and he’s already the star of his own fan-made video. Created by Julien Leterrier over four days, the 10-second clip finds the li’l droid speeding across a desert landscape, weaving between and beneath X-Wings. It’s effectively an extension of BB-8’s appearance in the trailer, which, like this video, was all too brief.

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The mythology of Middle-earth explained in four minutes

tolkien-mythology

If you’re heading out to watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, odds are that you have at least a passing familiarity with the complex mythology underpinning J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth saga. If you don’t … oh, boy, do you have some catching up to do. And fast.

Luckily, CGP Grey has put together a four-minute (or so) primer, with nifty illustrations, that may help. Of course, it may also leave you tearing at your hair and shouting, “Wait, who’s Eru Iluvatar again?” and “But where the hell did Hobbits come from?” (It serves you right for coming in at the end.) But, hey, that’s preferable to trying to slog through the The Silmarillion.

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Nobody cares about Stan Lee, says Stan Lee

stans-rants

It’s not easy being Stan Lee, particularly when it feels as if people only like you for your body of work.

“I’m glad people care about Spider-Man and Iron Man and the X-Men and the Hulk and Doctor Strange and all the others,” the legendary creator says in the latest installment of “Stan’s Rants.” “But this burns me up: I’ll meet somebody. ‘Hello, how are you? My name is Stan.’ ‘I’m Joe, that’s fine … Hey, Stan, tell me about Spider-Man.’ Or, ‘Hey, Stan, how come in the latest Iron Man story you did … Stan, how come this happened?’ Nobody ever says to me, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ All they want to know is my characters. How about me? What makes me happy? Did I have a good day, did I have a bad day? What are my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations? Nobody cares!”

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Supergirl carols for candy in Mike Maihack Christmas strip

Maihack-batgirl-cropped

Over the past few years, Mike Maihack’s adorable Batgirl/Supergirl comic strips have become a holiday tradition. Today, the creator of Cow & Buffalo and Cleopatra in Space is back with a new Christmas edition, in which the eternally cheerful Maid of Might wants to go caroling in Gotham. Which is apparently a lot like trick-or-treating …

“I feel like every Batgirl/Supergirl comic I’ve drawn so far has led up to this one right here,” the cartoonist writes. “Anyhow, Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope everyone is okay if this is the last of these for a while. 2015 is going be a busy, busy year for me.”

Mailhack is offering the original art for sale on eBay. You can find previous strips on his blog.

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Ian McKellen is downright magnetic on ‘Sesame Street’

mckellen-sesame-street

In the past year, both Loki and Superman have dropped by Sesame Street to teach the beloved characters valuable (and not at all sinister) lessons, and this week it’s Magneto’s turn. Or is that Gandalf’s?

Appearing alongside Sir Cookie Monster, Ian McKellen is tasked with telling young viewers what the word resist means. But considering that Cookie Monster doesn’t even know, it’s up to the actor to explain, using a couple of vaguely familiar examples.

“Say there was something you really loved, and it pulled you towards it like some sort of powerful magnet,” says the Master of Magnetism. “If you were able to control yourself and not go near it, you would resist it.”

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